State broadcaster ZBC said late Wednesday that 38 miners were trapped underground, while the state-run Herald newspaper put the number at 23.
Reports say the gold miners went underground near the town of Kadoma before heavy rains destroyed a dam wall, resulting in massive flooding. Police say rescue teams and pumps to drain the water were mobilized.
Large groups of men, women and children using picks, shovels and hoes are a common sight in Zimbabwe’s mineral-rich fields. The artisanal miners operate without regulation and safety standards are hardly practiced.
Illegal mining has become rampant in a country where many people are unemployed.